Personal Finance Masterclass: Creating a Budget That Locks in Your Goals | Ben LeFort | Skillshare

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Personal Finance Masterclass: Creating a Budget That Locks in Your Goals

teacher avatar Ben LeFort, personal finance & writing online

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Why Budgets Fail

    • 3. The 6 Steps to Creating a Goals-Based Budget

    • 4. Setting Your 3 Goals

    • 5. Calculating Your Take Home Pay

    • 6. Tracking Your Expenses

    • 7. Inputting Your Debts and Assets

    • 8. Using the Debt Repayment Calculator

    • 9. Your Goals Based Budget

    • 10. How to Balance Your Budget

    • 11. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

If you take one class on personal finance this year, make it this one. 

This class is about much more than budgeting. By the end of this class, you will know exactly how much you need to be saving for an emergency fund, retirement, and to pay off all your debts.

To do that, you will use the custom-built excel workbook that I have built and made available for anyone taking this class. It will crunch all of the numbers for you and create a budget that locks in these goals. 

In this class, you will learn how to use the excel workbook as well as the six steps to creating a goals-based budget.

  1. List out your financial priorities. 
  2. Set goals around each priority. 
  3. Figure out how much you need to save each month to accomplish those goals. 
  4. Figure out if those goals will work in your budget.
  5. Make adjustments to free up more room in your budget or review and set less aggressive goals. 
  6. Automate your savings. 

Important notice: The Excel workbook is only available to download on a desktop or laptop. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Ben LeFort

personal finance & writing online


Hi Everyone, 

My name is Ben and joined Skillshare to teach two subjects that I've been passionate about for years.

Personal finance Turning online writing into a scalable business

I invite you to check out all of my classes on these subjects and let me know if there is a subject that you think I should teach a class on that I currently am not. 



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1. Introduction: Hey everyone, my name is Ben Le Fort. I'm going to be your instructor for today's class, where you are going to learn how to create a budget that locks in your goals. I am really excited about this class in particular, if you've taken in my other previous classes on skill share, you probably noticed that I usually include a Excel workbook that crunches all the numbers for you. In this class, you get the ultimate workbook, which is basically you're going to enter in a few goals. In this workbook is going to be we'll help you track your spending. It's going to provide you a debt repayment calculator that will tell you how much you need to pay on each of your loans every single month. It'll give you a retirement calculator is telling you based off of your circumstances, how much you should be saving for retirement each month. And then it's going to put all of those financial goals, how much you need to, to save for each of those goals into a budget for you. And then basically what you're gonna do is be able to try to find a way to balance that budget and spend whatever is left over. I've spent a really long time putting this workbook together and is really advanced. So I'm excited to share with you guys your class project today is going to be to create three financial goals. To build an emergency fund, to pick a goal for when you want to be debt free and pick a goal for when you would like to be able to retire. And you're going to balance your budget or find a way to as close as he can to balance in your goals based budget using the workbook provided. So let's get started because we have a lot to cover. 2. Why Budgets Fail: So let's start with the discussion of budgeting in general and why so few people actually use a budget. I think there's actually really simple reason why so few people stick to a budget for the long term. You know, lots of people start working on a budget, but not many people actually stick with it for years and years and years. And I think the reason why is because they're following a budget template. And when you're following a budget template, you're not really writing down your financial priorities. You're following somebody else's financial priorities that they've told you. So one of the most common budget templates is the 50, 20-30 rule, which says each spend 50% of your money on needs. And so needs being things like shelter and food, 30% of your money on once. So stuff that you don't really need. But you'd like to have and 20% of your money on saving and investing. So don't get me wrong, you know, budget template like the 5000 20-30 rule is really useful, especially if you're spending is out of control. If you just really need a way to rein in spending and get some type of order in the financial chaos, then budget template can be a good place to start. But once you have your spending under control, a template budget can begin to feel more like a chore. And once something begins to feel like a chore, that's when most people just stop doing it and that's when they stop budgeting. That's why in this video we're going to create a goals base budget that is going to basically turn the budgeting process on its head and start with your financial goals and then build outward from there. So in the next lesson, we're going to review the six steps to creating a goals base budget. 3. The 6 Steps to Creating a Goals-Based Budget : Alright, so there are six steps to creating goals based budget. Step one is you need to list out your financial priorities. Then you're gonna set goals around each priority. Third, you're going to figure out how much money you actually need to save each month to accomplish those goals. Step forwards, they're going to figure out if you have enough money to accomplish those goals. And number five is you're gonna make adjustments, the free up more money, or review your goals perhaps at less aggressive goals if you can't find enough money to balance her budget. And then the sixth step is once you've gone through those five steps and you've been able to balance the budget and you have enough money to accomplish your financial goals, you're going to automate your savings to ensure that you stick with it. So let's get into these with a little bit more detail starting with step one. And in this example, in this class, I'm going to use three basic examples of financial priorities that are kind of the most fundamental financial priorities for most people in life. One is to build up a cash emergency fund. Two is to pay off debt. And threes to save for retirement. And I call those kind of fundamental because if you can accomplish, set really smart goals and accomplish goals, three financial goals, your financial life is going to be a lot less stressful than the Arab rich person you're gonna be doing quite well. Step two, then you're gonna get set smart goals around each of those priorities. So by smart, I mean specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. So third step is, and we're going to figure out then once we have a goal around each of those priorities, we're going to figure out how much we need to save each month to accomplish that goal. So if I have three goals around my priority, so my first goal around my priority of building a financial emergency fun is to build a six month emergency fund. And I also might specify when I want to have that in place. So maybe I would say, I want you to build a six month emergency fund and have that place in place in ten months from now. Then on step three, I'm going to need to figure out. So if I want a six month emergency funded ten months, how much money do I need to start saving right now to make that goal happen? And same with your other goals. If you want to pay off your debt and three years using the snowball or avalanche method, how much money do I need to contribute towards my debt every month to make that goal a reality. And same with retirement. If you want to retire by, say, age 65605570, whatever it might be, how much do you need to start saving right now to make that a reality? And that's going to be the really exciting part in the rest of this class. In the next few lessons, we're going to be using the Excel workbook I've created for you, which will tell you this exact number. So if you want your, your six month emergency fund in ten months, it'll tell you how much you need to start saving. Same thing for your debt and same thing for your goal on retirement. And so that's the really cool part throughout checking it, you don't have to crunch these numbers once you've figured out your priorities and set a realistic goal, the hard part is crunching the math and this takes care of that for you. You don't have to figure it out. The fourth step then what you do have to figure out is if you have enough money to accomplish those goals. So, you know, let's, let's take, for example, the goal of wanting your emergency funny, 16 month emergency fund set up in ten months. Let's say the Excel workbook in the next few lessons tells you you need to save $500 per month to make that happen. What if you didn't have $500 per month to set aside for savings goal, that's why the fourth step is to actually, you know, do a little bit of the work there to figure out, well, you know, do I have enough money for this? And that starts with your take-home pay, which is the amount you clear every month after taxes and deductions are taken off your paycheck, then you're going to subtract from that all of the amounts you need to accomplish each of your financial goals and then subtract out any of your central living expenses. And really the best part of this again is the Excel workbook isn't going to do this for you. And it may not seem clear now, but it will be when we run through the example, I'm going to show you how to use the workbook. Once you went you your take home pay, it'll basically subtract the amount you need to save each month to accomplish your goals and leaves you with a remaining amount. So again, your budget in this in this workbook is going to tell you, and do I have enough money to make this happen or, or maybe you don't. And if you don't, step five is to make adjustments is required to balance your budget. So again, maybe your financial goals are really aggressive and you don't have enough income to accomplish those aggressive goals at this time. Then we're going to talk about a few ideas of okay, can you increase your take-home pay through maybe through a side hustle? Maybe can you cut back on some expenses? Maybe you just gonna have to rework your goals to make them less aggressive. So instead of wanting a six month emergency funds set up in ten months, maybe a three month emergency fund is more realistic. Same with dead. Maybe instead of being dead for three years, your debt forensics, then you're gonna prioritize your goals if you've really gone through them in your setting along, you know, I really want that emergency fund set up fine. Focus on the emergency fund and maybe put the debt repayment and the retirements stuff on the back burner until you have that really pressing goal. If you really can't balance the budget, then six, Once you do balanced a budget, you're going to automate your savings, call up your bank, set up an automatic, automatic savings transfer every month to your emergency fund, to your retirement account into each of your debts. But if you automate those savings, then it takes a decision to save out of your hand and ensures that you follow through on it. So enough talking, those are the six steps of creating this goals based budget. Now let's get into the exciting part. You're gonna go to the resources part of this class and I'm gonna download the Excel workbook, and now we're going to learn how to use that to create your goals based budget. 4. Setting Your 3 Goals: Okay, and the first tab here is called the goal-setting tab. And this is where we are going to set our financial goals. So you're entered some basic information about yourself. So for example, maybe I'll say I'm 35 years old and I wanna retire at 68. So why retirement goals to be able to retire by the age of 68? Another goal would be I want to be debt free in three years. And then my emergency fund goal, I'll say want to have a six month emergency funds. So an emergency fund, they can cover six months worth of basic living expenses. And I'd like to have that setup in 12 months from today. And if you have anything in your emergency fund right now, enter it here right below. So for example, if you already had $3 thousand set aside in your emergency fund, enter that in here right now if you have an a, if it's 0, that's fine. But if you do already have some saved in your emergency fund that will be relevant in terms of impacting how much you need to save each month to build that emergency fund. So those are the goal-setting, very simple to get started. In the next lesson, we're going to input our income and our take-home pay into the workbook. 5. Calculating Your Take Home Pay : Now on the income tab here, this is where we're going to enter in your gross annual pay before taxes. So how much do you make any year before tax? So for example, I'm gonna say I make $70 thousand a year as an example, and that after all the taxes and deductions are taken off my paycheck every two weeks I get paid $2 thousand. So right here is calculating your annual take home pay. So after taxes, you would clear $52 thousand and you pay more in 18 thousand in taxes and deductions, which works out to $4,333 per month. And a really cool thing. If you then enter in cell C6, How many hours a week you work, it will actually give you your hourly take home pay. So if you work 40 hours a week in this situation, your hourly take-home pay would be $25. And that's going to be irrelevant when we get into the expense tracking portion of this workbook, which is in the next class, where you can actually figure out how many hours you needed to work to buy the things that you bought. 6. Tracking Your Expenses: All right, in the expense tracking tab, you are going to now track 30 days worth of spending. And this is a big task for many people. But this is really important and it's particularly important in terms of two things. One, to figure out how much you need in your emergency fund and to, to figure out where you're maybe spending money, where it's a bit of a waste of money and that you could free up to allocate towards your financial goals. So how the expense tracker works is you're going to break down each expense into one of three categories. The Big Three, which are housing, transportation, and food. Those are your three biggest expenses in life. So we refer to them as the big three. Next, we have values which are not essential spending, but things that you love to do. So if you love to travel, that would be considered values. If you love to, if you love sports, you know, going to the game, going into a game, it's a buddies that would be a value. And then you have stuff which is neither essential nor does it really provide any value to your life. So you're kinda mindless spending on stuff that, that's what classifies as stuff. So go back through as much of your spending as possible. You can use this little blue button here to add the expense. You can enter the date where each expense happened, the amount of the expense, and the classification, whether it was big tree values or stuff. You can also add in a little description about it. Maybe it was, you know, trip to Costco and any contexts for the purchase. Maybe it was contexts might be, you know, it was a bigger Costco order because the family was coming over for Thanksgiving. Somebody just to remind you why you spent that money. So two expedient things here. I'm not gonna go through a whole 30-day tracking of spending here. I have a separate class on that. You can check it out if you want more detail, but just to quickly show you how it works and how it's going to impact your numbers here on your budgeting. So in this example, I'm just going to briefly say that we spent $1000 on housing, $500 on food, and $540 on transportation. The important thing is that you make sure you have the classification Tab filled out. So watch what happens when I enter Big Three. Bang it, it enters up here how much I spent on the big three in total, and it keeps a running track of each of my spending. So that's big three is housing, food, and transportation all that's big three and it's gonna pop up here now to my total monthly amount spent on The Big Three was $2040. And it also calculates a given mine twenty-five dollar annual or hourly take-home pay, that I would have had to work 81.6 hours to get the $2040 spent on the big three. And you'll notice it'll keep that running track of how many hours you had to work for every single thing you purchase throughout the month. So it really makes it drive home how much of your life you're giving up for the things that you buy. So the essential self that you need in this workbook are the big three expenses. So all of your housing, transportation, and food. But ideally you want to go through all of your spending and classify it as either a values stuff or the big three so that you can get an idea of how much you're spending each month and where your money goes. 7. Inputting Your Debts and Assets: Okay, on the net worth statement, this tab is really important for both your debt free repayment calculation and your retirement savings calculation. So there's a lot of important information we need to enter in here, so let's review it in detail. The first part of this tab is going to be the non-mortgage debt section. So this is where you're gonna enter if you have credit cards or personal loans or car loans or student loans, any debt that is not your mortgage is going to go in this section. So for example, I've said credit card with a balance of $3,000.20% interest rate, any $60 minimum payment per month. All of this information in terms of your current balance, the interest rate you pay on that balance, and the minimum payments and all your debts that can be found on the statements for your credit card or whatever loan statements you have. And you should get that each month. If you don't have one call up, the credit card company or the company you have the lone width and ask for that information because you're going to need to enter it here. So I'm assuming that also I have a car loan of $10 thousand with a 6% interest rate in a $300 minimum payment, as well as a personal loan with a $5 thousand balance, 8.5% rate at a $100 per month minimum payment. And then we're going to see down here, it's going to tally up our total debt and our total minimum payments on those debts each month. Don't worry about these numbers, but the snowball and stuff yet that's gonna come in the next lesson where we use a debt repayment calculator And in fact, don't even touch any of these cells down here. You know, your monthly payment, your calculated snowball leave that because the debt repayment calculator will do it for you and any might actually screw things up if you mess around with those cells. So next you're gonna have your assets. So if you have your house or car or an investment account, enter it anywhere in any of these rows right here are news columns right here you can enter how much you have in those assets. Now if you have a retirement accounts, like a 401K or an RSP, if you live in Canada, anything that specifically designated as a retirement savings, you're gonna need to put it under these these cells here that have retirement account. So if you have workplace retirement account, I'm going to say in this example I have one that's $85 thousand. It's gonna total my assets both by my total assets at my retirement assets. So in this example, they're the same because I'm just going to assume there are no other real assets other than retirement accounts in this example to make the math work. And this number is going to be used to help calculate how much you need to save for retirement. So that's why it's important. And then if you do have a mortgage, you could enter down here in the mortgage debt tab down here. The reason we separate mortgage debt from the non-mortgage debt is so that the calculator knows not to include your mortgage when telling you how much you need to pay each month to become debt pre, unless you want to include your mortgage in your debt free repayment, repayment plan. But most people won't want to do that because your mortgage debt is quite different than, say, credit card debt. And credit card debt is a much higher priority than mortgage debt is to pay off. So those are the three tabs and it will also tell you to your net worth up here. So in this example, base off the numbers. And third, we have a positive net worth of $67 thousand. So that's the network statement. Take some time to make sure you're entering this information incorrectly because it will have a dramatic impact on what the debt repayment and retirement calculators tell you. Remember these calculators are only as good as the information you enter into them. So if you, once you have all this information down in, inputted into the network statement. And the next lesson, we're going to use the debt repayment calculator. 8. Using the Debt Repayment Calculator : Okay, so on the debt repayment calculator tab, what you'll notice is that the calculator automatically grabs the information you entered about each of your non-mortgage debts from the network statement. So remember, we had the credit card, the personal loan in the car along all of the vital information about those loans are entered here. Then all you need to do is pick your strategy for how you're going to pay off your debt. Whether it's this snowball method, where you pay off the debt with the smallest outstanding balance first and work your way up. You pick the avalanche method where you pick the debt with the highest interest rate first, pay that debt off first, and then focus on paying off the debt with the second highest interest rate and so on until your debt free. I'm gonna say in this example, we're going to pick the Snowball Method. And then I'm just gonna go over here where it says calculate your monthly rate. You're going to click that button. And now the calculator will tell you will control the numbers for you. And it's going to be based off of remember, in the goal setting section of this course, we said we wanted to be debt free and three years, which works out to be 36 months. So it's going to tell us how much we need to contribute towards our debt to be debt free within three years or 36 months. So in this case, that means we're going to need to contribute a total $585 per month to reach that debt free goal in three years. Over that time, we're going to pay $2274 in interest over those three years. And then if you scroll down here, this is where it's really interesting. It's going to tell us exactly how much you're going to need to pay on each of your debts. I'll zoom in here so you can see it in each month over those three years. So we have a running number of number of months, each of the debts laid out that we entered in that statement. So in month one, I'm paying a $185 on the credit card, a $100 on the personal loan, and $300 on the car loan. We're going to keep that exact payment schedule until the credit card is paid off. And now we are adjusting our payments so that we are paying $285 on the personal loan and $300 on a car loan. And we're going to maintain that payment schedule until the personal loan is paid off and then it's focusing on the car loan and look at that in 35 months, just shy of the 36 month Goal, three years, all of the debts are paid off. And if you go back to the network statement, that is actually summarized very nicely for you down here. So it's telling you these are three loans. The balances on each loan is going to tell you number of months until each loan is paid off, how much you're gonna pay an interest during that time until it's completely paid off. And it's actually going to tell you what month and year that loan will be paid off if you follow the payment schedule. So the credit card will be paid off in 20 months, which given when I enter this information would be May of 2022. The n over that time they paid $526 and interests on that credit card and we get the same information for all of your debts. So if you had 1015 different types of debts, it's going to list all that information telling you when it's going to be paid off, how much you're gonna pay an interest and when in terms of the date and urine is going to be paid. And then I'll summarize here. Down here, the amount of interests and a number of months until you are completely debt free. So this is completely based off the information you enter about your debts up here and what you said in terms of when you want to be debt free in a goal setting tab. 9. Your Goals Based Budget: Okay, and finally, we're at the monthly budget tab at the very end. So remember we entered our monthly take home pay back in the income tab of how much we clear each month after taxes and deductions that is automatically inputted here for you. So that's the maximum amount of money you have to spend each month. Then it took the amount you need to contribute towards your emergency fund gold. So in this example, I needed to save $1000 per month to get my emergency fund goal, which we set in the emergency fun tab of this workbook. And that number is also based off of how much we spent on the big three expenses in the expense tracker tab. So if we go back to the expensive tracker tab, remember we were spending in $2040 per month on the big three. So if I wanted six months worth of living expenses, basic living expenses, what we're talking about as the big three. So it's gonna say, all right, $2040 per month times six months worth of that. Then it's going to calculate how much you need to save each month based off when you said you wanted to have that emergency fund set up? Long way of saying make sure you enter your total basic BIG three, housing, transportation, and food expenses in the expense tracker tab or this number won't make any sense, then it's going to tally up how much we need to contribute. Additionally to retirement above what we're doing right now, which what we saw in the Retirement Savings Calculator and his example was $86. And again, that is calculated and taken right there for you. And finally, how much we need to contribute towards our get each month, which we did in debt repayment calculator. It told us we needed a total of $585 per month towards our debts to reach our goal of being debt free in the time we set out for ourselves in the goal setting tab. Now, It's telling us down here the budget to work with, which is simply your take-home pay minus the amount of money you need to save for each of your three financial goals. What's left over is in this tab, $2661. It's highlighted in green, meaning our budget is balanced currently we have a surplus. And this little OK button will come here. But we haven't actually budgeted any spending yet. So what we're gonna do now in the budget, this is now you're going to recreate your budget. You basically have this amount of budget in this cell here in D8 or d ten, I will tell you how much budget you have to work with. So let's say just for simplicity sake, we're gonna go, how much we spend on The Big Three was $2040. So we enter the $2040 there and look now at drops down, our budget remaining we have to work with it's $621 and it's going to show us how much spending we have budgeted. Let's say we'd spend another $500 on those. Just say values, Sufi values may miss travel, whatever it might be. Now we're down to a $122 left to budget and let's say, ooh, we usually spend $500 per month on stuff. Woo yikes. Okay, so now we have the red, the red light has come up here, which means we don't have enough money to make this budget work. And look, we're in the hole by $378, meaning we've currently budgeted more money than we have each month from our take-home pay, which is obviously not a good thing. So in the next lesson, we are going to learn about how a few simple changes can help you balance this budget because you can't leave here and go with a budget while the red light is still flashing and sale D8, we need a green light to go. 10. How to Balance Your Budget: Alright, now let's quickly review a few different ways we can balance this budget and get the green light to go. The first way would be simply to find a way to increase their take-home pay. So there's also this other tab here called other income. And this is where you can enter if you have if you plan on picking up any other type of income, you have a rental property. If you have a side hustle, second job, anything like that, you can enter it here. Now one of ice, I picked up a side hustle and I decided I want to spend an extra 30 hours a month working and after taxes, I might clear $500 per month on that monthly side, hustle and look at that. It's going to increase my monthly take home pay by $500 there, and that automatically gets put into your budget. So it increases the top line of money you have to work with by $500. And now look, we have the green light to go. And we have a $122 left over. So that's one way you might be able to balance your budget, is taking on a side hustle, taking on a second job, increasing your take home pay. Another way you might want to do it. So if you, if you don't have the time, you're not able to take on a side hustle, it's not an option for everybody. Perhaps then you just might set less aggressive goals. Because if your goals are less aggressive, you don't need to save as much money to meet those goals. So let's say instead of wanting to have be debt free and three years, maybe you want to be that free in five years. And rather than a six month emergency fund, maybe we're just going to start with a three month emergency fund instead. So your goals are going to determine how much you need to contribute towards those goals every month. So that dramatically reduce the amount we need to save for the emergency fund by saving for three months rather than six months, that saved over $625 per month. And on the debt repayment number actually have to go back to the debt repayment calculator and recalculate with the new goal in mind. So that drops down to 460, I believe was 585 before. So that greatly reduces the amount of money you need to save. Which means you can spend more money, it gives you more money to spend. And in this example here now we have the green to go because we set our more aggressive goals. Another thing you might be able to, you might wanna do is, well, it's just prioritize your goals. Maybe. Number one goal would be the emergency fund. If you just simply don't worry about the debt repayment, you just make the minimum payments and you don't worry about putting extra money into a retirement. That might also be able to free you up more money to balance your budget. But those are really the three ways that you can go about doing it down. And also you could as well obviously spend less money on your ear spending. But I'm going to assume here you've already gone through your expense tracking and cut out expenses that you're willing to cut out. Once you've done that, you do have three options. Take on a side, hustle, earn more income. You can set less aggressive goals and that means you need to save less towards those goals or just prioritize some goals over the others. So if you did prioritize their emergency fund, you know, maybe for 12 months, they're going all out and you build that six-month emergency fund. The great thing about it is once that emergency fund is built, unless you have a financial emergency, you don't need to keep saving into it. Once it's already built, then you can take the money you were saving towards the emergency and maybe you put it towards your debt and retirement in and kinda hammer out your goals one at a time. So that's it. That's a monthly budget in a nutshell. In how all of these different towns on his worksheet crunch the numbers for you to make life easy as possible. 11. Final Thoughts: Alright guys, so there it is. Everything you need to know about creating and goals based budget and how to use the Excel workbook. Now if you have questions about using that workbook, I know there's a lot to it. It's really complicated. It took me a really long time to build it. But if you have questions about it, you know, leave a comment here, asked me directly. I'm happy to jump in here with you guys and have discussions and help you in terms of how to use the workbook, your class project would I would love for you to do if you're comfortable taking a screenshot of your balanced budget. So if you've got the green light to go in your budget, take a screenshot of that, let everybody know in class projects session and encourage each other. If you see somebody else's maybe struggling together about their budget to balance, chat with them, encourage them because we're all in this together in a way that's gonna do it for me today. It's thank you so much for taking the time to enroll in this class. Let me know what you thought of it. I really would love your feedback and we will see you again next time.